It’s been that kind of season for the Boulder football team.
After five consecutive losses in which the Panthers were outscored by a combined 186-10, they appeared to be headed for a victory in their regular-season finale Friday night.
But a team even more desperate for a win, Arvada West, had other ideas. The Wildcats drove 65 yards in the final three minutes and scored a touchdown with 35 seconds left to push BHS’ losing streak to an even half-dozen.
The 22-18 loss at Recht Field ended what little hope the Panthers had for a spot in the 5A state playoffs. Instead, they’ll end the season next weekend in a matchup with another team that missed the 32-team playoffs.
“It was a tough way to lose it,” Boulder coach Jeff Santee said of Friday’s contest. “We left some opportunities out on the field, especially in the first half.”
The win was the first of the season for Arvada West, which improved to 1-8 overall and to 1-4 in the North Metro League. The Panthers, meanwhile, dropped to 3-6, 0-5.
Boulder started the season 3-0 before losing its last six games, all but Friday’s in lopsided fashion. But that’s become a trend for the Panthers. In 2010, they began 3-1, then lost five of their last six. In 2009, they were 2-0 before dropping seven of their last eight. And in 2008, they were 3-1 but lost their last six contests.
Santee attributes it to not having nearly the number of players out for the team that most of BHS’ league opponents have.
“We do everything but set ourselves on fire and run down the halls to try to get more kids to come out and play,” he said.
“That’s probably been the biggest factor as we get into the season. It’s frustrating. We do always start out strong and we bust our tails in the offseason and our kids are into it. Three or four games into the season, we’re sitting in pretty nice position. But the grind ends up taking its toll.”
On Friday, Boulder led 10-9 at halftime, but kept an Arvada West drive alive in the third quarter with a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt and another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. The result was an 86-yard drive that culminated in a 27-yard touchdown pass.
“We’ve had that problem with penalties all year,” said BHS running back Demetrius Kennedy.
Kennedy had some big plays Friday, but came up just short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal running play early in the fourth period. He made up for it later when, after being hemmed in on a running play to the right, he reversed field for a 16-yard rush that got Boulder down to the A-West 3-yard line. He scored two plays later, putting the Panthers up 18-15 with 3:01 remaining.
But the BHS defense couldn’t stop the Wildcats in the waning minutes, and a 9-yard pass from Marcus Culhane to Ryan Gillespie with 35 seconds left proved the difference.
“We just wanted to really pick up our tempo (on the last drive) and open it up a little bit,” said A-West coach Casey Coons. “We made a couple of plays, which was nice to see.”
Boulder threw the ball for 234 yards Friday, with Philip Swisher accounting for all but six of those. But on the down side, the Panthers drew a dozen penalties for 115 yards.
Arvada West 22, Boulder 18
At Recht Field
Arvada West (1-8, 1-4) 3 6 6 7 — 22
Boulder (3-6, 0-5) 0 10 0 8 — 18
Arvada West — Nick Lucernoni 38 FG.
Boulder — River Addison 37 pass from Philip Swisher (Andrew Kurtz kick).
Boulder — Kurtz 22 FG.
Arvada West — Jesse Petrie 5 run (kick fail).
Arvada West — Petrie 27 pass from Marcus Culhane (run fail).
Boulder — Demetrius Kennedy 1 run (TJ Patterson pass from Swisher).
Arvada West — Ryan Gillespie 9 pass from Culhane (Lucernoni kick).
First downs 20 18
Rushes-yards 38-232 35-155
Passing yards 113 234
Comp-Att-Int 9-16-0 15-23-1
Punts-Avg. 2-32.5 2-37.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 10-68 12-115
RUSHING — Arvada West: Petrie 22-143, Culhane 15-85, Jackson Mitchell 1-4; Boulder: Abel Brown 7-63, Kennedy 17-46, Swisher 7-27, Hans Lehndorff 4-19.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Arvada West: Culhane 9-16-0, 113 yards; Boulder: Swisher 14-22-1, 228 yards; Kennedy 1-1-0, 6 yards.
RECEIVING — Arvada West: Petrie 5-65, Kiefer Rohweder 2-28, Tyler Follett 1-11, Gillespie 1-9; Boulder: Luis Escobar 4-31, Kennedy 4-51, Addison 3-65, Brown 1-58, Connor Stowe 1-13, Loic Guegan 1-11, Swisher 1-6.